Starting out as an MC at a young age, Strategy quickly became a core figure of the underground Manchester music scene.
Early on he formed the renowned Mancunian hip-hip crew Broke’n’£nglish alongside DRS and Konny Kon (now in Children of Zeus), further establishing their own label Estate Recordings and collaborating with the likes of Chimpo and Skittles.
Often on tour all over the world, Strats discovered that it was vitally important for him to use his time effectively whenever he’s away and to make sure he sees as much of any city or country he finds himself in.
As a result, he started taking photos of all of the interesting places he was visiting, which opened up a newfound passion for art and photography that he never knew was there.
I was lucky enough to get some time with the man himself to chat about his new found passion and get to know how he actually fell into it all (whilst also learning that we’re soon to hear some amazing new music from him too).
Many of the photographs on his website have been taken during his last few visits across Japan and America, but it’s the colourful art pieces which recently found their way into my Instagram feed that really peaked my interest.
Visually these debut pieces are stunning and I find myself staring at them for minutes at a time, trying to work out exactly how they have been put together.
As we talked, Strategy began by telling me that in the past he’s never been very good at any form of visual art, that he’s terrible at drawing and that his handwriting is “absolutely shite.”
He’s always had an interest and eye for all things visual though, and when he saw a bunch of acrylic paint and canvas on sale in a shop window one day, he thought his daughter might want a go and so bought a load and took it home.
During some daddy daughter bonding, making a right mess with the paint, creating hand prints and such, they came up with some really interesting patterns that triggered some ideas in Strategy’s head.
This led to Strats experimenting with the acrylics further, taking photos and manipulating the work he’d put onto canvas into symmetrical patterns.
Things snowballed from there. Having no previous experience in photography or Photoshop, he learnt what he could from YouTube to try and develop his manipulations further. He started to get an eye for what worked and didn’t work visually.
“Initially I had no idea whatsoever as to how the photographs would come out if I got them printed and whether or not they could be blown up to A3 size or more. So I took my images into Minute Man Press in the Northern Quarter and they really helped me out.”
Now that Strategy knew it was possible to produce his vision as a tangible print, he looked to framing and wanted to do something special. Luckily one of his friends, Mike, from ‘Drawn by the Light’ workshop stepped in and helped him engrave each piece individually.
Keeping each design to a super limited run of 10 a piece, these works of art are sure to be snapped up quickly, and I’ve no doubt they’re probably going to be worth a few bob in years to come.
Strategy has already been getting amazing feedback on his work and has had a fair few initial orders coming from all over the UK, Japan and New Zealand. He loves the idea of his work being up in peoples’ houses and he said he gets the same buzz off that as he does hearing his music in a club or on radio.
“I know people always like to have a meaning behind artwork but to me beauty and colour itself is art and so if i can bring that into peoples’ homes or workplaces, or wherever, then i consider myself an artist!”
Strategy informed me that he’s now got a bit of a system going on with constructing these pieces so he hopes to develop further and there are already a number of collaborations in the pipeline so watch this space!
Each print is made with acrylic paint on canvas which is photographed and manipulated into symmetrical shapes then printed onto 250gsm unglossed paper and then put into a frame that has been individually laser engraved with Strategy’s name and the print number.
Limited edition prints by Strategy
with bespoke engraved frames
Strategy also announced today that his debut EP on Tru Thoughts comes out on Friday 28th June. The piece is aparently conceptually formed around the Adelphi Lads Club, a youth centre that was shut down in Strategy’s hometown. This EP will further showcase his skills as a producer, fusing a kaleidoscope of electronic bass music.